World Mobile Congress 2010 – Day Three Updates

The main events in Barcelona have crept past the halfway mark, and the major announcements are starting to slow up. All is not lost, though, as a gentler pace has given us the chance to explore a few more of the newly announced handsets, and give a quick overview on what we’ve learnt. We’ve also been delving further into the new Symbian platform, which wont be seeing the light of day for at least nine months on the handset market, but still gives us a great glance into the company’s newest open source venture. Here’s day three in summary:

  • Symbian Three has been officially unveiled. The open source software is focusing on developing three different areas of the old system: user interface, performance and the use of multimedia on the platform. This has resulted in several major developments already, though the platform is still a full few months short of being ready for development, and unlikely to be found on any handsets until early winter 2010. The improvements on show so far in Barcelona include multiple home screens (ideal for business/ pleasure alternatives, perhaps?), simple program access through one touch systems (rather than having to scroll through a menu), and getting rid of that confusing ‘one tap/ two tap’ system that blighted the older system. It’s early days, but with developers getting ready to go mad on the open source side of things, things are certainly looking promising.
  • Sports clothing and shoes manufacturer Puma are an unexpected new entry into the handset market. The company has no prior when it comes to producing mobile devices, but, having enlisted the help of established producer Sagem, seem to have produced an impressive little model. One of the key aims seems to be to tie in to Puma’s established business, with a focus on including features that compliment the sportier phone user. These are set to include a GPS system designed to compliment running and cycling, and a built in solar charger for those with a real outdoor attitude. There’s also a playful dimension, including a built in Puma called ‘Dylan’, who falls somewhere between a game and a screensaver, and other clever features like a DJ ready turntable and video calling. It looks like Puma will be sticking to Europe only to start with, which is a shame for American punters, as it’s a smart little model. They’ve even made the solar panel look like the tread of a Puma shoe.
  • Internet Explorer ‘Opera’ has announced it’s new iPhone service, which is never expects to see the light of day. The exercise is thought to be another stab by developers at iPhone’s exclusive attitude towards applications being included in their app store, particularly those that might challenge the native Safari web browser included with the iPhone. Opera has deliberately exploited a loophole in the browser regulations provided to iPhone developers to stay within the letter of Apple’s rules, and is keeping its new baby tightly under wraps at the convention, enforcing strict rules on those wishing to view the product. Despite the current protective attitude, we’d be very surprised if many at Opera expect the iPhone service to ever see the light of day, at least in any commercial sense.
  • Garmin announces two new handsets, the A50 and the M10. Given Garmin’s previous expertise in GPS and the recent combination of mobile phone technology and GPS technology in a whole load of handsets, the continuation of their highly unsuccessful (so far) foray into the world of mobile phones was probably inevitable. While we didn’t have a chance to wonder around Barcelona and sample the GPS system, we can be confident that it’s probably the one area in which Garmin really stand out. As for the handsets themselves, they run a fairly standard Android platform blended with Windows Mobile, a combination that allows a blend of app download options (more of a draw a week ago than it is now, given developments in the early days of the congress, perhaps). Most importantly of all, both handsets seem to function well as smartphones, something most would argue Garmin’s previous efforts didn’t. Given the companies following in other areas, these two models could be unexpected (if not massive) hits.
  • Nvidia introduces the Tegra Chip, which has been widely tipped to power the next generation of smart phones. The tiny chip will fit comfortably inside a standard cell phone, yet has enough power to allow the Nvidia booth to run an HD video flawlessly on a 60” screen at full speed. Definitely one to watch out for in the future. Making use of its chip, the company also displayed a whole selection of tablet style devices, which included both conceptual models and a few that are set to be launched onto the market in the near future. While the chip might not excite a typical mobile phone user, it will certainly have developers drooling, with the speed and output prospects extremely high.
  • NTT Docomo introduce the vision controlled headphones. You can usually rely on NTT to come up with something a bit silly (after all, they are the same company who produced the chocolate phone – as in a phone made to look like a bar of chocolate), but this year they’ve come up with something seriously futuristic and more than a little impressive. Using eye movement to control tracks is a new and not entirely perfect concept, but the basic premise is that you can change tracks and volume by using different eye movements. The problem, of course, is that this doesn’t allow for your less deliberate eye movements, and might cause a particularly shifty individual to skip tracks almost constantly. The technology is largely a demonstration of what the company is capable of, of course, and is unlikely to find a commercial market anytime soon. Still, NTT’s off the wall outlook never fails to impress us.

So, only one day left of the 2010 edition of the World Mobile Congress, and who knows what else we might stumble across in the technological heart of the world (well, at least for this week!). Check back in tomorrow for our final update.

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